Small MSP - Organic Growth Vs Planned Expansion 


The Background

A single engineer decided to strike out and begin consulting. He was clever and personable and soon found himself with too many clients to handle on his own. (If only we could all have this 'problem'!) So, he hired an employee. Then another. Then another. Soon they were a company of 10 people and very little process. Autotask was chosen as their ticketing system, and a couple folks were given administrative jobs. As an engineer himself, the CEO managed to keep the delivery side of his business fairly in-check. However, very little thought was given to the rest.

The Current State

This small MSP had been in business for 20 years and had been hovering between 12 and 20 employees for the past decade. Clients very rarely left, but new clients were equally rare. The CEO was still filling the roles of President, Account Manager, Sales, Pre-Sales Engineer, Marketing, and even Deployment Engineer. Because of that huge demand, a fair amount was getting missed. The only tools in use were an internal file system, QuickBooks, and Autotask.

Over the years, staff additions were attempted. These hires included a few sales people, and a handful of account managers. This CEO was attempting to find someone with a very similar skill set to his own, with the addition of marketing and process in their background. None of these hires stayed for more that 6 months, and often sighted overwork and underpay as motivators to quit.



CRM & Sales- We determined that because of the budget conscious nature of our client we would be best served implementing a CRM that included sales functionalities. Again, because of budget restraints we eliminated some of the 'bigger' names in the CRM field. We ended up selecting Pipedrive as an ideal fit because of it's sale tracking, exchange integration, and marketing integration options.

Because integrating Autotask with any other tools would require custom API work, a plan was put in place to roll out Pipedrive as a tool used exclusively by sales and account managers. Zapier (an integration service) could provide syncing of contact creation between Autotask and Pipedrive, but nothing more. Based on cost, this was not enough functionality to warrant the spend on Zapier. It was determined that all leads and sales would be driven through Pipedrive, then, once a sale was made, entering the customer information into Autotask would be handled by an administrative employee as part of the customer on boarding process.

Identified Problems

CRM- Autotask was being used as a CRM. This is a fine tool for engineers to see ticket progress, but was most likely a large source of frustration for the Sales/ Account Managers being brought in. There was very limited client filtering, no calendar system, no task system, a cumbersome & outdated UI, and no integration offerings.

Marketing- All email marketing was being preformed through Autotask. This was a very poor tool for the job as it offered no mailing list curation tools, no mass editing system, and very minimal composition tools. Other digital marketing was handled by a third party.

Staffing- Because of the state of the economy, it was surprising that none of the new hires for the sales/ AM position stuck. Upon reviewing salaries, they were offering 40% less than market value pay for the position. There was no 401k, and a standard 3 weeks off-time 'pool' that incorporated all sick time as well as holiday time. 

Another staffing issue that we discovered was that it took an average of 5 months for a technician to be 100% trained. There was no formal training program, and a large amount of time was spent figuring out where to find customer information.

Sales- There was no formal sales tracking occurring.


Marketing- Mailchimp was determined to be an optimal solution for email marketing needs. Because no formal marketing department existed, their average email output hovered around 2,000 per month. Mailchip offers up to 2,000 subscribers, and 12,000 emails per month at no cost. The pricing for moving beyond that was determined to be reasonable, so the tool can scale with them.


Staffing- We constructed a detailed report on employee turnover cost for the company. We presented an analysis that raising their sales/AM employee salary by 30% in an effort to push retention to 3 years would only cost the company 14% more than they were currently offering. 

A formalized training program was suggested along with an easier to navigate documentation solution. IT Glue was our initial recommendation, but out of budget. A runner up solution was a professionally created Sharepoint site. They had implemented a Sharepoint site themselves in the past, but without any formal development it was nearly identical to the convoluted file system they had before. We determined that professional Sharepoint development would be more cost effective than ITGlue past the three year mark and would greatly reduce new hire on boarding time.